'Russia's New President'       [Courrier International, France]



Nachrichten, Switzerland

One Can't Compare Russian

and American Democracy …


"American democracy undoubtedly suffers many shortcomings … but it's not yet completely ruined. Last weekend however, Russian democracy took another step toward self-imposed dismantling and its remolding into a Potemkin democracy - which is only a facade."


By Patrik Etschmayer


Translated By Ulf Behncke


March 3, 2008


Switzerland - Nachrichten - Original Article (German)

The world media and election observers are all in agreement: Russia’s presidential elections were a farce WATCH . The Russians held an election without a choice, and the President was chosen by his predecessor Putin, who as prime minister will keep his new "boss" Dimitrij Medvedev under his thumb.


Some still hope that the Putin saga will play out again with Medvedev. Because even the strong man from Moscow was initially regarded as a predictable, weak president - merely a stooge in office. But today the arrangement is quite different. At the time, Putin took over from the sick, alcoholic Boris Yeltsin, who left a power vacuum behind that former KGB man Putin filled with his own men. And Medvedev is one of those men.


Putin has the reins very tightly in hand, and even if Medvedev wanted to, he would find it very difficult to break or to erode his predecessor’s power-base. For the foreseeable future - and probably beyond - Russia will remain Putin-land. And as such, it is country striving to regain its lost glory.


Tomorrow [March 4], interestingly enough, Russia’s former archenemy will also set its future course. The primaries in Texas and Ohio could determine which Democrat will run against Republican John McCain in November.


Again and again of late, sarcastic remarks have been made questioning whether the United States is more of a democracy than Russia.



Such remarks are unfair.


The argument tends to imply that America's presidential chair can actually be purchased - in fact can only conquered with tremendous amounts of money. The duel in Texas appears to be proof: the two candidates in this state alone spent millions, in order to fill primetime with commercials on every channel.   




But this comparison is substantially flawed. This is because in Russia, the election was decided before the campaign had begun. The people who could have posed a threat to Medvedev can be found either in exile or labor camps. Or they are dead. Moreover, money for the election campaign and campaign gifts came either from the State Treasury or from companies which, for good or ill, are at the mercy of Kremlin leaders.


In the current battle for the U.S. presidential nomination, however, the donations have come mainly from the people. Barack Obama’s burgeoning campaign coffers are filled entirely by ordinary people. For example, over a million people have already donated money to Obama: And it's a movement that is likely to grow once it's no longer about the candidacy but about the presidency itself.


American democracy undoubtedly suffers many shortcomings, like voting machines that can be manipulated, smear campaigns and the fact that apart from the two parties, there is virtually no chance for a candidate to establish him or herself. But American democracy is not yet completely ruined. Last weekend however, Russia's took another step toward self-imposed dismantling and its remolding into a Potemkin democracy  - only a facade.




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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US March 6, 9:34pm]